FEATURED POST

Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

Image
The fire moved quickly through the house, a one-story wood-frame structure in a working-class neighborhood of Corsicana, in northeast Texas. Flames spread along the walls, bursting through doorways, blistering paint and tiles and furniture. Smoke pressed against the ceiling, then banked downward, seeping into each room and through crevices in the windows, staining the morning sky.
Buffie Barbee, who was eleven years old and lived two houses down, was playing in her back yard when she smelled the smoke. She ran inside and told her mother, Diane, and they hurried up the street; that’s when they saw the smoldering house and Cameron Todd Willingham standing on the front porch, wearing only a pair of jeans, his chest blackened with soot, his hair and eyelids singed. He was screaming, “My babies are burning up!” His children—Karmon and Kameron, who were one-year-old twin girls, and two-year-old Amber—were trapped inside.
Willingham told the Barbees to call the Fire Department, and while Dia…

Indiana is in a death penalty corner

Rural Indiana
Indiana officials probably don't want to have a big debate about the death penalty, but they more or less have to. The issue has been hijacked by capital punishment opponents, who have pushed the state into a corner by challenging the lethal cocktail used to carry out state-sanctioned executions. If the state can't talk its way out of the corner, it might have to go back to "less humane" methods of execution.

Most death penalty states have a similar dilemma. Influenced by anti-capital punishment activists, major drug companies have stopped making their lethal products available to states using them for capital punishment, so states have been scrambling to find alternatives.

In 2014, the Indiana Department of Corrections came up with a 3-drug cocktail of methohexital, potassium chloride and pancuronium bromide, which no state or federal prisoner in the country has been executed by. Other states coming up with their own concoctions have had horrible instances of prisoners dying gruesome, drawn-out deaths, which has put the "cruel and unusual punishment" argument back on the table.

Roy Lee Ward, one of Indiana's 11 prisoners on death row, sued the state in 2015, arguing that the DOC skirted procedures when it chose the new drugs. A LaPorte Circuit judge dismissed the claim. But now a 3-judge Indiana Court of Appeals panel has reversed the lower court. The judges found that when the DOC chose the new drugs, it violated Ward's rights under the state and federal constitutions. The DOC did not follow guidelines set by the General Assembly that regulate how state agencies change its rules, including holding a public hearing, the court said.

The state's options are limited. Even if it backs up and follows all the procedures the court says are necessary, it may be a moot point. Indiana's stock of lethal injection drugs is expired - and, given the attitude of the drug companies, the state is not likely to replenish them any time soon.

So what is the state to do? Put executions on hold indefinitely, which would have the effect of eliminating capital punishment? Bring back the gas chamber, hanging, the firing squad, the electric chair?

It is more than a little ironic that lethal injections were settled on as a more humane way of dispatching capital offenders. In trying to deal with claims of its cruelty, the state might have to revert to killing in ways considered even more barbaric.

Maybe it's time for one of those public hearings.

Source: News-Sentinel, Editorial, June 6, 2017

⚑ | Report an error, an omission, a typo; suggest a story or a new angle to an existing story; submit a piece, a comment; recommend a resource; contact the webmaster, contact us: deathpenaltynews@gmail.com.


Opposed to Capital Punishment? Help us keep this blog up and running! DONATE!

Comments

Most Viewed (Last 7 Days)

Iran: Three Hand Amputations, Four Hangings Carried Out in Qom

Iran: Woman Asylum Seeker Lashed 80 Times After Being Deported From Norway

Trial by Fire - Did Texas execute an innocent man?

Iran: Three executions carried out, two in front of large crowds

Gambia: President Barrow Signs Abolition Of Death Penalty Treaty

Two Myanmar migrants make final appeal in Koh Tao murder case

Judge warns death row inmate to keep Nevada's execution manual secret

Texas Child Killer John Battaglia Found Competent for Execution

Iran: More Public Executions, Prisoner Hanged While Crowd Watched

Poorly executed - Indiana inmate challenges state's lethal cocktail change